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The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

by Alan Bradley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Flavia de Luce (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,5836081,020 (3.84)1 / 906
Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, must exonerate her father of murder. Armed with more than enough knowledge to tie two distant deaths together and examine new suspects, she begins a search that will lead her all the way to the King of England himself.
  1. 173
    Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (lorin77)
  2. 122
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King (clif_hiker, 47degreesnorth)
  3. 111
    The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (foggidawn)
  4. 101
    The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (chinquapin)
  5. 178
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (nysmith)
  6. 71
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (citygirl)
    citygirl: Castle is much darker and Flavia is more adorable than creepy (Merricat is quite creepy), but if you're interested in unusual young protagonists, with a very particular world view, try these.
  7. 71
    Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Though Sweetness is more of a traditional mystery, it shares with Where'd You Go, Bernadette an endearing, precocious, and entertaining young narrator who pieces together clues from the adult world to solve a mystery. Character interactions are delightfully, humorously depicted.… (more)
  8. 115
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (lauranav)
    lauranav: Both show relationships and point of view of a young girl.
  9. 83
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (inbedwithbooks)
    inbedwithbooks: Deze twee boeken vertonen veel gelijkenis, door de hoofdpersonages, nl.jonge rijke betweterige meisjes.
  10. 51
    The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen (raizel)
    raizel: Both stories about brilliant and quirky children were recommended at the same time by my daughter. T.S. Spivet is the more real character and the book is beautifully written. Yes, T.S. Spivet is a boy, but I'm not sexist enough to let that bother me.
  11. 30
    The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer (LongDogMom)
    LongDogMom: Flavia de Luce has a similar voice as Enola and both are young, precocious and underestimated detectives.
  12. 20
    Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes (y2pk)
    y2pk: Pre-teen girl investigating adult crimes, while putting up with her sometimes-strange family and home life. Emma Graham also appears in two other books, Cold Flat Junction and Belle Ruin. They should be read in order.
  13. 10
    The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (47degreesnorth)
  14. 43
    The Little Friend by Donna Tartt (dara85)
  15. 00
    A Man in Uniform by Kate Taylor (starfishian)
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English (596)  German (4)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (608)
Showing 1-5 of 596 (next | show all)
Someone recently recommended this book to me and when I took a look at it I thought it was a book for children. While young people would certainly enjoy it, the level of vocabulary makes it obvious this was written toward an adult audience. The main character, Flavia de Luce, is a precocious eleven year old who has a passion for chemistry......and poison.

The premise of the story revolves around a dead man found in the de Luce's cucumber garden and a famous stamp, the Orange One Penny. The death is connected to a dark event involving Flavia's father during his boarding school days. Flavia's father passes most of his time locked alone in his study, collecting stamps and listening to music.

Once Col. de Luce is arrested, Flavia decides the police aren't up the the job and she starts her own investigation. She has determination, perseverance and the thought process of a young Sherlock Holmes.

Alan Bradley does a great job of bringing all the quirky characters alive. The story is set in rural England in the early 1950s. Flavia lives in a decaying mansion called Buckshaw with her older sisters, Ophelia and Daphne. Her mother was killed in a mounting climbing incident in a Tibet when Flavia was one.

I loved Flavia. The story is told from her perspective and some of the scenes will really make you laugh. Anyone who has brothers and sisters will love the sections where she takes revenge on her older sisters. Her elaborate vocabulary and obsession with all things chemistry make this a very witty mystery.

If you are in the mood for a gritty police procedural or a pot-boiling thriller, this is definitely not the book for you. I thought this was a fun and engaging mystery and I had a lot of fun reading it. Just when Flavia was getting a little too precocious and over the top with some of her vocabulary and knowledge, something would happen to make her shift back to the lonely little girl whose only parent ignores her. I would definitely read another if I wanted a break from some of the rougher mysteries I have a tendency to read. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jul 2, 2020 |
Seriously...I see that some of you all liked/loved this one but I am baffled. This is up there with "The Catcher in the Rye" with most loathsome young adult character I have read in like decades. Flavia is dancing towards being a psychopath. I would have brained her for the crap she was doing to her two sisters. And all of them were just the most dysfunctional family ever. I can't even tell you much about the murder. Someone was murdered. Flavia "investigated". Bah. At least I counted it for two separate games.

So "The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" follows Flavia De Luce. A man is found murdered in her family's garden and her father is soon taken into custody accused of the murder. Flavia who overheard her father fighting with the dead man thinks he did it, but is focused on getting him cleared of murder. Flavia's eleven and I guess could be called precocious. I don't know. I know she bugged the ever living life out of me.

Look I don't know what to even say except I didn't like this one. Bradley didn't do a good job of developing Flavia beyond her being a terrible ass child. I can't say much about anyone else that is in this since they are merely there for Flavia to do terrible things to. My brothers would have buried me in our yard if I got up to half the stuff that she did.

The writing was unintentionally funny and circled back to Flavia being awful.

They’ll charge him with murder,” Ophelia said, “and then he’ll be hanged!”

She burst into tears again and turned away.

For a moment I almost felt sorry for her."

“What is it? My symbol, I mean.” “It’s a P,” he said. “Capital P.” “A P?” I asked, surprised. “What does P stand for?” “Ah,” he said, “that’s best left to the imagination.”

The flow was awful. Seriously. I had a hard time paying attention while reading this one. And it felt like sometimes that chapters went on forever. Bradley didn't do a good job of ending the chapters on a high or low note. Sometimes the next chapter was just following up with the action in the last scene so I was baffled why he chose to cut things off where he did.

The book takes place in the 1920s in England. I don't know...it just read off to me the whole time. Maybe the dialogue was too modern and other times something seemed off. I don't know.

The book ended and I breathed a sound of relief. I have no intention of reading the other books in this series. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
I thought Flavia was a precocious and adorable little girl. I feel like she could be inspirational to little girls who like science but maybe others in their class do not. ( )
  audraelizabeth | Jun 30, 2020 |
I first tried reading this novel in 2014, but I was unsuccessful. I tried it again three years later, and I finished it! (Probably at least in part because I listened to it on audio and could "read" while otherwise occupied.)

Clever book. Somewhat tedious at times, especially during the long passages of exposition. The squeakiness of Jayne Entwistle's rendition of Flavia's voice took me aback every time I listened again after a break, but was only a significant distraction when I listened through headphones. I couldn't get into it when I tried the paper book, so I guess there was something more gripping about the audiobook, squeakiness notwithstanding. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Jun 28, 2020 |
Stamp collecting thief,
amateur magician thug,
red had it coming. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 596 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradley, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Entwistle, JayneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montgomery, JoeCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paavilainen, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Unless some sweetness at the bottom lie, who cares for all the crinkling of the pie?

--William King, The Art of Cookery (1708)
Dedication
For Shirley
First words
It was as black in the closet as old blood.
Quotations
That means King George the Sixth, and King George the Sixth is not a frivolous man. (chapter four)
It is not unknown for fathers with a brace of daughters to reel off their names in order of birth when summoning the youngest, and I had long ago become accustomed to being called "Ophelia Daphne Flavia, damn it." (chapter 16)
It occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. No... eight days a week. (chapter 5)
My particular passion was poison. (chapter 1)
'I have forgot much, Cynara! Gone with the wind,
...
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! In my fashion'

It's from his Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae. Perhaps you know of it? I shook my head. It's very beautiful, I said.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Book description
I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life.

In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction — eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950 — and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. A dead bird is found on the doorstep, a postage stamp bizarrely pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and watches him as he takes his dying breath. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw.

An enthralling mystery, a piercing depiction of class and society, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie is a masterfully told take of deceptions — and a rich literary delight.

-----------------------------

For very-nearly-eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, the discovery of a dead snipe on the doorstep of Buckshaw, the crumbling de Luce country seat, was a marvellous mystery — especially since this particular snipe had a rather rare stamp neatly impaled on its beak. Even more astonishing was the effect of the dead bird on her stamp-collector father, who appeared to be genuinely frightened. Soon Flavia discovers something even more shocking in the cucumber patch and it's clear that the snipe was a bird of very ill omen indeed.

As the police descend on Buckshaw, Flavia decides it is up to her to piece together the clues and solve the puzzle. Who was the man she heard her father arguing with? What was the snipe doing in England at all? Who or what is the Ulster Avenger? And, most peculiar of all, who took a slice of Mrs Mullet's unspeakable custard pie that had been cooling by the window...?

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